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Otter appoints Deputy Attorney General Jessica Lorello to state’s 2nd-highest court

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 3, 2017, 6:47 p.m.

Jessica Lorello (Concordia University)
Jessica Lorello (Concordia University)

Deputy Idaho Attorney General Jessica Lorello was named to the Idaho Court of Appeals on Tuesday, to complete the term of retired Judge John Melanson on the state’s second-highest court.

Gov. Butch Otter made the appointment from among four finalists recommended for the post by the Idaho Judicial Council. Lorello will serve out the balance of Melanson’s term, which runs through January 2019; she then could seek election to remain on the Court of Appeals.

“Jessica’s extensive experience in criminal appellate cases was a strong factor in choosing her and will be a great help to the Court of Appeals, which has a heavy caseload of criminal appeals,” Otter said in a statement. “The breadth of her work in the Attorney General’s office has prepared her well for this new responsibility.”

The other three finalists for the post were Boise attorneys Christine Salmi, Dennis A. Benjamin and Christopher P. Graham. The Judicial Council selected the four finalists from among a dozen applicants, who included three sitting magistrate judges and second-term state Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, an attorney who also served three terms in the Idaho House.

Lorello, a Boise native, has worked in the Attorney General’s office since 2004. She holds a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, and both a master’s degree in healthcare administration and a law degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

In addition to her work at the Attorney General’s office, she is on the faculty of Concordia University’s Boise law school and also teachers regularly at the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy. In the Attorney General’s office, she works in the criminal division handling criminal appeals and capital cases, and also occasionally handling cases at the trial court level as a special prosecutor.

“I am honored that Gov. Otter has appointed me to the Idaho Court of Appeals,” she said in a statement. “It has been my pleasure to serve the state of Idaho for the past 13 years, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of this state in this new role. I commit to do all I can to advance the rule of law and to maintain and enhance confidence in the judiciary.”

The Idaho Court of Appeals has four judges; the other three are Chief Judge David Gratton; Judge Sergio Gutierrez; and Judge Molly J. Huskey. It hears appellate cases assigned by the state’s highest court, the Idaho Supreme Court; three-judge panels hear each case.

Melanson, who is from Blackfoot and practiced law in Buhl, was the presiding judge over the Snake River Water Rights Adjudication for six years. He’s served on the Court of Appeals since Otter appointed him in 2009; he’s been a judge since 1995, winning election multiple times. He started as a magistrate judge in Lincoln County. He retired June 30.